Letting the AI defend for you. No thanks. How to be an aggressive defender

FIFA19 4 - Letting the AI defend for you. No thanks. How to be an aggressive defender

Hi all,

First off, let me preface this by stating I am an elite 1, 2500+SR player. I'm not trying to kiss my own arse or anything; I'm just trying to lend some credibility to what I'm about to tell you. Also, this isn't the be-all-end-all. I'm not saying this is how you MUST defend. It's just how I defend, and what works for me. I could be wrong in many instances, and get shut down and corrected by someone better than I. However, if you can use this info, (or even small bits of it), to help you out in your own game, then it's mission accomplished for me.

Ok, here we go. . .

Often I hear people asking for advice on how to defend, and the most common response I hear is:

"Just run around with your CM/CDM/CAM and don't touch your defenders, let the AI defend for you."

While I won't deny that this tactic works; I will say that it's very limited. If you're content on being an average FIFA player, (results wise), and content with staying at that point, by all means, use this strategy. It will work against players that are average/bad. You will definitely get wins, but I promise you, you will plateau; and soon you'll be banging your head against a wall wondering why you can't progress and reach the next tier you aspire to be at.

Saying all this, if you want to make the next step up, (and are actively trying to improve), ditch this strategical mind set. Get rid of it. It's not going to work at the upper echelons of game-play. Don't focus your time and energy on a bad habit.


If you want to play at the top level, you're going to need to be able to manually defend. Not just one-on-one defending, manual defending as a unit. How many pro's/T100's do you see letting the AI do all the work for them? I'll answer this for you: none. Not a single one. Why? Because it's exploitable, inconsistent and unpredictable.

I'm no pro myself, (far from it), however, I'm going to outline a few key techniques that I have worked on personally, that have pushed my game from an average Gold 3 in FIFA 17, to 28/30 wins in FIFA 19. Oh yeah, I'm 40 years old, so no excuses. If this old fucker can do it, (with the reflexes of a sloth), you can too.

Right stick analog switching

This is the key right here. This is what will make you an aggressive top tier defender. It will feel awkward, uncomfortable, (and even difficult), at first, but the more you practise it, the better you will become. You need to master this if you want to defend effectively. Let me also include that the execution of this command isn't perfect; sometimes it won't switch where you want to, (this is the games issue and complained about widely), but it's still a hell of a lot better than not using it at all. Master it.

  • The harder/longer you press the right analog stick, the further the player it selects. Tap it, it will select the closest player.

  • Do not completely disregard using L1 to select the closest player. This is to be used in conjunction with right stick switching. Select the best method for the circumstance.

Contain/Team-mate contain

I do not use regular contain. The usage certainly has it's, (minor), merits, and I can see why people may use it in bad input-delay conditions, but I never use it personally. It's too passive. We want to be aggressive. Standing off our opponent isn't what we want to achieve.

Team-mate contain, though, is something that I do advocate using.

  • Never use it to bring your CB's out of position, (as it opens you up to trivial 1-2's).

  • Use it to to assist in pressuring the ball carrier with your midfielders while you attack the ball receiver.

  • Use it with your LB/RB when your opponent is pissing around on the wing to trap them and force them into making a poor cross/pass.

  • Consider going in to key binds and switching around the bind for contain and team-mate contain. It's much more convenient and easier to utilise team-mate contain if it's on your face buttons, rather than a shoulder button. You will be using team-mate contain far more often than regular contain; if you use regular contain at all.

  • Until you get the hang of it and can predict who your second man press will be, consider turning the option on that puts a cursor over your players head. This is also the player that the game will switch to if you press L1.

Anticipation and reading your opponent

In conjunction with right analog switching, this is also the key to effective aggressive defending.

Our goal is to predict what out opponents next play is going to be, switching to our player closest to the next ball receiver, and attacking the player receiving the pass. This is high pressure play, and often, too much for our opponents to be able to handle. You're gong to need defensive focus here. You can't just half-arse this. It's easy to just L1 the closest player and charge at them and smack them with a lunge tackle. This isn't high pressure. It's lazy and ineffective against a good player.

One on one defending

My favourite.

When shit hits the fan, and your opponent is one-on-one with your CB, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get the ball back with your big-man.

How do I defend one-on-one?

I do not charge at the attacker at 100mph and spam lunge tackle/stand tackle hoping to win the duel. Not in the world of La croqueta's. You're asking for trouble. Rather, I select my player, utilise the jockey function, (L2), wait for my opponent to move towards my defender, then i attack him with either a standing tackle or just run my player into him. Yes, run my player into him. It's stupid, and shouldn't exist, but honestly, it's one of the best ways to safely retrieve the ball. Alternatively, I can just sit in front of my opponent jockeying and my player will automatically retrieve the ball if my opponent gets too close to my defender. This is going to take some practise to be super effective at executing, as the risk is much higher with failure. Saying this, our chief goal is to not allow ourselves to be in this position to start with; we've fucked up at some point a long the line already if we're now in this situation.

Custom Tactics

While many people sing praises of drop back defending, I do not use it. I've tried it, (and in some formations I still do use it), but in my regular go-to formations, I prefer press after possession loss with a high depth. My goal is to retrieve the ball as fast as possible, and as high up the pitch as I can. I want to smother my opponents and make life as difficult as possible for them. If you're better than your opponent, you will crush them with this mindset and strategy. Sure, you DO get countered sometimes, but for me, the pro's far outweigh the con's.

As for formations, I use a 4222 formation primarily in game, but I do use other formations depending on if I feel the need to switch.

This is a list of the guides I have posted on Reddit:

Hopefully you find something you might find useful in there.


Obviously there is much more to defending than what I just outlined, (such as jockeying and cutting passing lanes, etc.) but there's a plethora of guides on how to do that, so I won't go into that. Frankly, relatively speaking, that's quite easy to do. Effective high pressure defending is much more difficult; but the ceiling is so much higher and the rewards much greater.

In a nutshell, it's not overly difficult to score in FIFA. However, concede less than your opponent, and you win. It's a simple game.

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